Writer takes issue with Roman history lesson
It is more than a bit curious that someone would produce 685 words of erroneous history, cheap sermonizing and unwarranted conclusions all for the purpose of telling the neighbors they’re ungrateful barbarians for being unwilling to swallow the medicine being shoved down their throats by an overbearing government. It is impossible to address all of the errors and falsehoods on display in this screed, but there are some particularly egregious points that need be addressed.
The idea that Roman dominion bestowed benefits to those areas under their sway that accrue to this day ignores the current dismal status of much of what was once the Roman Empire. Those states occupying what were the provinces of Pannonia, Illyria, Thracia, Greece, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Cyrenaica, Africa and Mauretania are hardly models of good government.
The idea that the Romans didn’t conquer “for the fun of it” is belied by the conquest of Britain – there was no foreseeable benefit to be gained from the undertaking and, beyond providing a base for the accession of the emperor Constantine, there was little gained.
The first American colonists – for the purpose of this discussion we can put aside those from Beringia – came from Spain and Portugal; those settling in North America came from France, Holland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The Irish immigration to the United States in the mid- to late-1800s was an effect of the Irish famine – in large part the result of the policies and practices of the English government – and settled mainly in the Northern part of the country.
Wages, living standards and levels of education in the Southern states, with their lower cost of living, lower taxes, and lower rates of crime, are comparable to those of the Northern states where they are not superior.
The horribly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the legislation Max Baucus (D-Montana), a principal author of the bill, referred to as a looming “train wreck” – is yet another federal excrescence encroaching in the lives and affairs of the citizenry. When the federal government is $16.8 trillion in debt (an increase of $7.1 trillion in five years), burdening the taxpayers with yet another federal Ponzi scheme is folly of unimaginable scale.As is the case with Social Security and Medicare, the only way to give this contrivance the appearance of plausible functionality is to use the force of the federal government to coerce participation.
Not accepting the arbitrary and destructive dictates of a remote, controlling, and self-serving government is what led to the foundation of the United States. What appalls is not the resistance of the Southern states to the impositions of the federal government but the acquiescence of so many of those states outside of the South.
The lessons to be learned from Rome are manifold but the principal lesson – taken to heart by the Founders and bolstering much of the Constitution – is the danger of a vast and uncontrollable central government.
Roman influence, are you serious?
I have to respond to the absurd letter written by Dennis Tilly on May 10th entitled “America’s political influence has deep European Roots”. In summary, he postulated that self-governance is most successful when done by people who best learned the valuable lessons of Roman Empire and their head-cracking, top-down approach to government. He went on with a couple of absurd examples on how cultures that didn’t get adequately exposed to the Roman Empire, including the Southern US, were “behind the times” in their political sophistication even 2000 years later.
The folly of his thesis is obvious. Big government, head-cracking, nanny states that do things the Roman way have been outperformed by their more liberty minded counterparts all over the world for centuries. South Korea is much more sophisticated and advanced society than their Roman-like, oppressive North Korean neighbors. West German ran circles around their Roman-like East German neighbors in every way. Cuba is a dump compared to where it would be had it been organized as a free society rather than going the Castro way.
If Mr. Tilley was right, surely Italy would be the “shining country on a hill”. After all, they got the heaviest dose of Roman wisdom. But Italy one of the worst governed countries in the world and they are near the front of the pack as most of Europe rushes over the socialist cliff. In fact, all the countries closest to Rome are going down the tubes the fastest.
Even today in the US, “blue states and cities” are in societal and political cesspools as compared to their “red state and city” counterparts. The rust belt, the West Coast, and the East Coast are headed for undeniable bankruptcy and economic collapse because of all of their ill-conceived dalliance with collectivist government. Due to the devastating effects of the modern Democratic Party, the number of people fleeing Blue State America for Red State America is astonishing. (please don’t bring your idiotic politics here)
No, the key to successful governance isn’t a society’s mastery of top-down, Roman-style, heavy-handed, centralized government, it’s FREEDOM. Simply said, the freer a society is, the better it performs. And government’s job is simply to do what it takes to optimize the people’s freedom - no less, and definitely no more. And governments that figure that out will always outperform their Roman-esqe counterparts.
It’s very simple: free people and free markets produce more wealth, and wealth is what it takes for societies to advance in EVERY way – it isn’t any more complicated than that.
In the end, the Libertarians are right, the Democrats/Socialists/Communists are horrendously wrong, and I can’t figure out what the Republicans are thinking.